Bucatini Alla Amatriciana

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Originated in the town of Amatrice (in the mountains of the Lazio region) the Amatriciana is one of the most famous pasta sauces in the Italian cuisine.

Story goes that this dish was initially called ‘gricia’ because of the people who invented it, the "grici," sellers of bread and comestibles from the village of Grisciano. 

Originally,  the recipe was prepared only with guanciale (cured pork cheek) and grated pecorino cheese reflecting the local products easily available. However, during the 18th century tomato sauce was added to the preparation creating what we now know as Amatriciana.

The recipe became more and more famous in the Rome region in the early 19th century because of the strong ties between Rome and Amatrice and quickly became a ‘classic’ of the Roman cuisine even if it originated somewhere else.

The tomato-less gricia is still prepared in central-italy, however it is the tomato-enriched amatriciana that is more well-known all over the country and the world. And while the dish is sometimes prepared with spaghetti, the use of bucatini (long, hollow tubular pasta) is a traditional habit.

Serves 4

¾ pound guanciale, or pancetta, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion, halved and sliced ½-inch thick
1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups basic tomato sauce
1 pound bucatini
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
Pecorino Romano, for grating

1. Being 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.

2. Place the guanciale slices in a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan in a single layer and cook over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered from the meat, turning occasionally. Remove the meat to a plate lined with paper towels and discard half the fat, leaving enough to coat the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. Return the guanciale to the pan with the vegetables, and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions, garlic and guanciale are light golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, add the tomato sauce, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Cook the bucatini in the boiling water according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce. Add the parsley leaves, increase the heat to high and toss to coat. Divide the pasta among four warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated Pecorino cheese and serve immediately.

Makes 4 cups

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
Salt, to taste

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.